Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari Monday said oil producing African countries must immediately set realistic timelines to end the practice of flaring natural gas at oil fields across the continent.
Buhari said this when he opened proceedings at the sixth African Petroleum Congress and Exhibition (CAPE VI) which was organised in Abuja by the African Petroluem Producers Association (APPA).
He added that it was time for African oil producers to cash in on the values that proper use of natural gas present to her by taking a fixed resolution to put an end to flaring, an estimated 40 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
The president was represented by his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
He noted that Nigeria which recently announced a new timeline to end gas flaring at her oil fields was on course to see this out.
He said: "The use of gas in Africa's future energy mix has become imperative. If Africa must meet her future energy needs, the issue of the development of a robust gas infrastructure must be jointly addressed."
"In processing Africa's hydrocarbon resource, environmental issues must be accorded huge priority.
"Globally, over 150 billion cubic metres of associated gas is flared annually, of this figure, Africa flares an estimated 40 billion cubic meters annually.
"In Nigeria, gas flaring amounts to about 23 billion cubic metres per annum in over 100 flare sites constituting over 13 per cent of global gas flaring," he explained.
The president added: "Nigeria is a member of the World Bank Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GCFR) Partnership and with the support of our legislature, we will sign the United Nations Agreement of "Zero Routine Flaring by 2030" although our national target is 2020.
"I urge all APPA member countries to set realistic targets for gas flare-out in the region."
Buhari also tasked African oil producing countries on developing local capacities to match Africa's desire to beneficially use her oil resources.
The countries, he said should develop ingenious ways of promoting value addition and investment through sustainable policies in local content.
According to him: "A common approach to local content will ensure that the whole of Africa benefits from economies of scale associated with our vast resources."
He noted that Nigeria already has some level of advantages on this, adding: "In this regard I invite member countries to partner with Nigeria to derive more benefits from ongoing mega projects like the General Electric service centre for manufacturing rotating equipment in Calabar, the Ladol industrial free zone in Lagos - wholly indigenous, privately developed and hosting the largest shipyard in West Africa, the 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) Dangote indigenous refinery in Lagos and the Samsung FPSO Integration Yard in Lagos; to mention a few."
Buhari stressed that the continent must recognise that the development of domestic refining capacity in oil and gas would remain critical to her sustainable economic growth.
Also speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated that the conference offered African oil producers the opportunity to look deeper into their challenges and come up with realistic solutions.
Kachikwu noted that among the continent's producers' challenges in mining oil, funding operations remains the most serious.
He said in this regard: "It is a new dawn for Africa and we are excited about the development. We will continue to work collaboratively because there is a lot happening in the space but also a lot of challenges that we have to overcome.
" The major challenge is funding. Obviously skillsets are there already and technology is not an issue but funding remains key. Policies are also key because African governments have to develop policies that will enable backward integration into their own systems."